The Evil Empire Strikes Again

The Evil Empire Strikes Again
The Evil Empire Strikes Again

I hate Walmart. I hate this mega corporation for the standard reasons (the new millennium version of the company store), but I also hate it because I can’t seem to go in there and NOT spend a boat load of money. I’ll go in for one or two items and walk out with a car load of stuff that was deemed necessary while under the influence of the Walmart atmosphere.

In a 2008 New Year’s resolution, I resolved to quit watching Law & Order. Like too much news, L&O provoked apathy and/or despair. Uncharacteristically, I actually kept the resolution. I haven’t watched the show since a surprise snowstorm stranded me in a motel in a Cumberland Gap motel in early January of 2008.

Due to the success of that resolution, 2009 found me resolving not to shop at Walmart unless absolutely necessary. I’ve been successful. I quit doing my food shopping there. And even though they have my favorite off-brand shampoo, I’ve resisted and have run around with less than stellar hair.

Between January and May, I have made purchases at the Walmart exactly twice. Once for an emergency dog food run at midnight and once for corn tortillas (nobody else seems to carry them). [Note: I frequently have a strong compulsion for fried corn tortillas stuffed with sharp cheddar and slathered in salsa.] 

I wish it was a K-Mart blue light special.
I wish it was a K-Mart blue light special.

I have felt virtuous.

Then the masthead rose died.

The masthead, a Glamis Castle, was originally purchased at Walmart in 2008. I searched everywhere for a replacement and finally gave in and went to the Walmart. No luck. But they did have a plethora of plants on clearance that were healthy and borderline necessary for the white garden. I indulged and assuaged my feelings of guilt by telling myself that since the plants were deeply discounted, Walmart’s profit margin on my purchase was minimal. [Note: Smith & Hawken’s is shipping me a Glamis Castle rose sometime this week – I’m very excited.]

feeders
Hummingbird feeders.

Then yesterday there was the hummingbird feeder emergency. I searched everywhere for the small glass globes that I prefer. No luck. So I toddled off to the Walmart. No luck there either, but they did have these kick ass solar lights. For $4.

Oh my.

I love solar lights. I think they’re one of the truly great inventions. I’m particularly fond of the copper ones with the blue-white light. I have 8 large ones in the retaining wall bed and they’ve stood the test of the time. At present, the batteries are weakening and the light doesn’t last as long, but they are still a favorite feature in the garden. I’ve been looking for some more to place in the new beds.

And damn it all – Walmart has a nearly perfect solution at the affordable price of $4 each. They’re far smaller which will work quite well for the effect I want. I gave in and bought one. To my credit, I resisted buying the entire display until I verified that it was indeed a perfect solution.

They’re perfect. Damn it all.

Damn it all, they're perfect
Damn it all, they’re perfect.

I’m going to check Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot first (all three only marginally less offensive than Walmart, but less is less), but I suspect Walmart has a lock on them.

I have so few principles and the ones I do have are falling like dominoes. I really, really hate that I’m probably going to purchase a plethora of little $4 solar lights at the Evil Empire. When it comes to the garden (and shoes), I have little self-control.

Damn it all.

Safe, Faddish, Healthy, and Environmentally Friendly

I love, love, love nicotine.
I love, love, love nicotine.

I’m a smoker. I love the stuff. I know the dangers, but I really, really enjoy nicotine. I don’t think I can write without the stuff. I’m serious.

I really hate being addicted. I hate that Big Tobacco is dictating my behavior and the government is taxing the hell out of me. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

But we smokers know that quitting ain’t easy. (All you ex-smokers can just shut up right now.) It’s pretty much been determined that getting off heroin is easier than nicotine. I have quit before – for years at a time. My body goes haywire, I gain a gazillion pounds, and everyone says to me, “But don’t you feel so much better now?” And I snap, “No!” I miss them every day of every week of every year that I’m not smoking.

Even so, I’m an atypical smoker.

I love cigarettes, yet I hate the damn things too. I really hate the tobacco companies. And I’m extremely pissed that we’re subsidizing tobacco and taxing the hell out of it rather than just making it illegal. (See? I hate it so much I’ve got to rant on the subject twice in one post.) Since, I’m generally against criminalizing drugs, I realize my thoughts on this are not logical. Sue me.

Still, hope springs eternal that I can quit and feel good during the process and more importantly, afterwards.

I read about the e-cigarette in the news not too long ago. It seems the FDA is not terrifically happy about it and proprietors are forbidden to sell it as a stop smoking aid. It’s an “alternative to tobacco.” There are tons of customer testimonials, however, that witness to its ability to end the evil habit. I scoffed.

silly ember

Silly Ember.

The e-cigarette is supposedly a marvel of technology that looks pretty much like a regular cigarette. I wish the filter felt more papery. The whole thing has a ceramic feel to it and it’s heavier than a regular cigarette. There’s an LED light on the end that glows red when one inhales on the filter. The feel in the hand is a bit off, but not irritatingly so. The LED “ember” struck me as ludicrous until I realized it signals when you need to charge the thing up.

The filter – now here’s where it gets interesting – contains a cartridge of nicotine and glycol. When you inhale, the atomizer produces a fine mist that feels (I swear) like smoke and tastes like a cigarette.

How do I know all this? I test drove a friend’s – the same friend I teased unmercifully about the too-ridiculous-to-be-true stupidly named “e-cigarette.” Then I went web surfing. I immediately quit scoffing and began scrounging up the money to get my own. Said friend is down from 2 packs to 5 real cigarettes a day.)

The perfect cigarette for one who composes at the keyboard?  We'll see.

Is this the perfect cigarette for one who mostly composes at the keyboard? We'll see.

The cartridges come in regular, menthol, and a variety of flavors. They also come in several different levels of nicotine – from “high” to “none.” If I did the math correctly, once you get the starter gear, it works out to about $5 a carton. So whether you’re trying to quit (which the FDA forbids you try to do with this thing) or just trying to save money, this could be your ticket. After quitting, one can buy non-nicotine cartridges for those events where succumbing to temptation to bum a cigarette might occur. (Or to use when writing or like, um, after sex.)

So my deluxe starter kit arrived today and my batteries just got done charging.

E-cigarette in the nifty case.

E-cigarette in the nifty case.

Look Ma! No dirty ash trays! No lighters. No tar. No carbon monoxide. Even if I can’t quit, theoretically, this is “healthier.” I think. But I’m tickled pink with the damn things. I can lay it down anywhere. There’s no mess, no debris, and it all packages nicely into the tiny cigarette case that came with my kit. There’s a car charger, a wall charger and a USB charger (no kidding, I can charge the silly thing while I’m writing).

It’s going to take some getting used too, but my initial reaction is positive except for the user’s manual which is a hoot and a holler. It was clearly written by someone with a bad command of the English language. It took me forever to figure out how to put the cartridge in. What directions there are, are obtuse and, many, are missing altogether. The cover of the manual is, itself, great humor. I’m informed right off the bat that the thing is “Safe, Faddish, Healthy, and Environmentally Friendly.” Yup, I’ll be glowing with pride to be “faddish.”

I'm fadish, baby, I am, I am.

I'm fadish, baby, I am, I am.

Since I’ve only been using the thing about an hour, I’m NOT recommending it at this point. Email me at wvfurandroot at gmail dot com if you want more info. (Or just email me, I love email.)  I’m not posting company names or nuttin’ until I have a better handle on whether this is a Good Thing ™ or not.